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News/Business. Media personalities discuss current issues.




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Us 10, Pentagon 5, Nita Lowey 3, Mikulski 3, Hall Rogers 2, Paul Ryan 2, Washington 2, Boehner 2, Andy 1, Obama 1, Rogers 1, Murray 1, Patty Murray 1, Mr. Chairman 1, Michelle Obama 1, Dick Shelby 1, Andy Taylor 1, Mick 1, Roxana 1, Martha Washington 1,
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  CSPAN    Newsmakers    News/Business. Media  
   personalities discuss current issues.  

    February 17, 2013
    6:00 - 6:30pm EST  

men and women on the street. >> this president's day c-span premieres its new series "first ladies influence and image" with historians, chiefs of staffs, chefs and cure craters, exploring the lives of women who served as first ladies from martha washington to michelle obama. it begins monday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern. watch the program earlier in the day, live at 23k p.m. eastern >> this week, joined by hall rogers, chairman of kentucky and chairman of the appropriations committee. thank you for doing this. we appreciate it. two reporters tho to help us, andy taylor, associated press, congressional reporter and roxannea turon, bloomberg reporter as well. andy, first question. go ahead. >> well, mr. chairman, as
everybody in washington is very concerned about this phenomenon called the sequester which is the benefit of the audience, these automatic indiscriminate across-the-board cuts, 5% to domestic agencies, 8% to the pentagon, you've been looking at the kind of impact this will have. what do you expect? how much damage do you think it would do for government operations? how badly would it affect your constituents and people across the country? >> well, needless to say, being an appropriator, i think it's an idiotic way to do business. these are indiscriminate cuts. they're not thought through but are automatic across the board without any consideration of good, bad or evil, or whatever. so i think the cuts are devastating. i'm sad to see it take place
but i don't see an effort being made realistically to stop it. >> do you, mr. chairman, do you think that once the sequester actually takes effect, that people will see the wide ranging implications of this and they would actually start working together to figure out the best way to either avert it or replace it? >> that's my hope. i'm hoping, number one, i was hoping we could avoid it. but after it hits, which i think it will, i think it's going to have a shock effect on so many different programs and agencies and operations of the government that hopefully people will come to their senses and reach a realistic goal. >> what's one of the effects that you think will shock people? for example, the pentagon is hit the most, half the cuts are at the pentagon, what do you think it will take for people
to say finally let's get together, figure out a way to not let this happen? >> the cuts to the military of course are the most severe and that will i think require the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of civilian employees, not to mention military operations and maintenance. but also, these cuts will affect every agency, every operation of the government except social security, medicare, medicaid, and food stamps. those are exempt. but every other agency and program will receive some sort of cut, probably 5%, around that. but since we're well in the fiscal year, the balance of the year, these few months will have a greater impact than a few percent of the year since we're talking about several
months. the cuts are more severe than they first appear. >> the way this thing is designed, every account equally, right down to the -- you call them program levels or whatever -- but not every account says yeah, as an agency is important. if i were the agriculture secretary, i might be worried more about meat inspection, for instance, than boll weevil research but they don't have the flexibility to do anything about that. do you want to try to give them flexibility? you think that might help? do you think they want that flexibility? >> i of course i think they want some help any way they can get it. but the president does have some flexibility in how the cuts are administered, not a great deal but some. i'm trying to write into the considering resolution that takes place roughly the same time as sequester, the authority for the administration to request
reprogramming, taking money from one account to another with the approval of congress, or disapproval. that would be of some help but not a major piece. >> when you say continuing resolution, just for those outside of washington, you're talking about the legislation that keeps the government funded? >> correct. and it's unfortunate that all of these are hitting at the same time. because it's doubly confusing to me and everyone else. >> it certainly is. sequestration, continuing resolution, the soup. >> and debt ceiling increase. which will come probably in early summer or so. >> the sequester was never intended to take effect, it was intended to give the warring tribing around here to agree on the budget. but now some of your party's most ardent conservatives are kind of embracing it as a way to maybe get more leverage on the budget. but, you know, the defense cuts are concentrated in a lot of
areas where republicans perform well, in the south, around military bases and the like, the effect on civilian employees is going to be quite dramatic. do you think some of the, if you will, tea party members of your party who are currently embracing the sequester are going to be hearing from their constituents, particularly those in the military areas and will can to regret it? >> there's no doubt there will be a lot of reaction when the sequester hits. it will hit all of us, every congressional district in the country. i keep hoping, though, that the president will come forward with a realistic plan to avert sequester. we've seen nothing of the sort. and he's the only person that really has the capability to make things happen so that we avoid the quester. -- the sequester. but i've seen nothing out of the white house that is
realistic in that regard. >> what would you consider a realistic plan to avert the sequester because president obama has insisted on new revenue, new taxes and so have the senate democrats as well. so what would be an acceptable, realistic plan that the president could present to congress, to both chambers? >> all of this activity is about an effort to's rein in spending. we're borrowing 42 cents of every dollar we spend. the deficits are almost out of control. we have a national debt of 16-plus trillion dollars. and what we're looking for is realistic ways to cut spending. now, as has been said before, and i hope commonly understood, we only appropriate a little over a 1/3 of federal spending. that's what congress annually appropriates, or supposed to. 2/3 of federal spending are the mandatories, the entitlement
programs. everything from social security, food stamps to veterans pensions, medicare, medicaid, and a hundred others. that's where all the money is. and until you rein in the entitlement spending, we cannot get to a balanced budget, which is our goal. the mandatory spending is increasing dramatically. when i first came to congress, we appropriated 2/3 of federal spending. now it's a 1/3. when i came, we were -- entitlements took up 1/3 of spending, now it's 2/3. we've actually cut what we appropriate in the last two years by $95 billion, so discretionary spending, which is what we control, is going down. first time since world war ii since we ended world war ii. but we've made no -- the white house has made no efforts to help us rein in the entitlement spending. >> if the white house does put
something forward on entitlement spending, will republicans, yourself, you can only speak for yourself, but would you agree to closing corporate lools, as the president said in his -- loopholes as the president said in his state of the union. >> they should be looked at. and the ways and means committee, dave camp, chairman, they're working now on a tax reform package which would include lool closings -- loophole closing which would take time and that's something we don't have at the moment, time. but entitlement spending is where the action needs to take place. if we eliminated every penny we appropriate for every agency, including the military, if we did away with all discretionary spending, we'd still be in the red and the only place to go to get those kind of savings are in the entitlement sector. and i see nothing taking place from the white house to get control of that spending. >> if you don't have time for tax reform, closing corporate
loopholes, how do you have time for entitlement reform before march 1? >> all the parties, by and large, have laid out over the last few years things that could be changed and modified to save those programs for the future by some reforms. so there's plenty of reforms laying around here that no one has picked up and put together, and that can only happen, i think, when the president, the head of the government, puts together a package and he's not doing that. >> let's talk about something you do have some control over, which are the unfinished appropriations bills. there are 12. they were supposed to be completed in october. the senate didn't even debate a single one. you started out with a process in which you started with lower cap, the senate had a higher cap, and that's important, i think, because it makes it difficult to sort of set
expectations inside your various subcommittees. now it's commonly expected that a lot of those appropriations bills, most of which have been completed and are ready to go, are just going to be thrown away and the government will operate sort of on autopilot, as this c.r. you talked about. can you talk about why this process broke down and do you plan to maybe take a couple bills, particularly for the pentagon or the veterans administration and try to at least move them in concert with this continuing resolution? >> well, the house, on my committee, approved all 12 bills, and we sent seven of them to the floor of the house which passed. but in the meantime, the senate just did nothing. and finally, because we had a lack of floor time on the house side, leadership said, since the senate is not going to act
on any bills, why do we waste time passing them on the house side? so the breakdown occurred because the senate simply refused to do anything. consequently, we headed into a c.r., continuing resolution, which continues last year's funding at that level for the rest of this year, which is a bad way to do business. we had, as i said, seven of the 12 bills pass through the house, and they were ready for action with the senate but they simply did nothing. we have got to have a budget resolution on the house side that agrees with the senate, a budget resolution. so that we're working at the same number. when we work at the different numbers, it's obvious you can't -- it won't happen. so i think the secret here, solution, would be to have a consistent budget resolution, both house and senate. and that gets us into the big questions, the big debate about
spending and entitlement cuts and taxes and so on. so i'm hoping that we can get back to regular order. that's been my goal in this job since i've had it, try to get us back to the point where we pass individual bills under open rules, amend them, perfect them, send them to the senate, they do the same, and then we have a conference with the senate to work it out. that's the way the place is supposed to operate. and i've been trying to get us back to that point. but you've got to have two parties to tango. and the house has tangoed and the senate was asleep. >> what about putting the pentagon bill on to the c.r.? >> and in the continuing resolution that i hope we can put together, i'd like to take the house-passed and the senate-passed appropriations for the defense department and military construction and veterans. those two bills. i'd like to take what we passed through the house and senate and conference, and we've
agreed on those bills, i'd like to insert them in the c.r. which would give the pentagon some much-needed flexibility in their spending. we're wasting so much money, that time in with the last year's appropriations bill, they can't do new starts, they can't take money away from programs that are no longer needed and save that money. they can't do anything of that sort. and so we're wasting so much money, not to mention, i think, damaging maintenance and operations in the military by making them live with last year's rules and regulations and moneys. so i want to give them some flexibility. they desperately need it, national security demands it. so i'm hopeful that we can do that. >> what are you doing to present this plan to your colleagues? and particularly the ones who want to see very deep spending cuts, the ones who said well, let's, you know, let's let
sequester take effect. how do you present this plan both to your republican conference but also to the leadership which has promised at the retreat that the spending, that the spending for the rest of the year would be at much lower levels, would be under $1 trillion, no matter what. how do you sort of -- how do you match everything up? how do you make sure that the conference is onboard, that the leadership is onboard with what you're trying to do? >> that's what i'm attempting to do is try to bring us all together around a common plan, and so we've been having lots of meetings with membership and leadership and our senate partners and the like. and the -- doing the defense bill is a part of the c.r., is receiving general acceptance. in fact, i had a lot of contacts from regular members
to do this very thing. so i'm sort of responding to what i think is a popular idea among our caucus and the house. and i'm hopeful that our colleagues in the senate will agree and they seem open to that. >> has your leadership presented it to the senate democratic leaders? >> i don't know. i've met with chairwoman mikulski, and dick shelby, the ranking republican over there, as well as nita loy on my i'd -- nita lowey, on my side, the four of us have met. and we talked about this, and i think there's an openness to this idea. we'll see. but there's so many other unrelated, semirelated adjuncts to what's going on now. we've got sequestration, we've got a continuing resolution to keep the government going, which -- both of which are
occurring simultaneously. and that ceiling looming in the near future as well, so there's lots of pressures and crosscurrents that are taking place around the continuing resolution effort. i would like, if we could keep continuing resolution somewhat segregated from those other really tough questions, because i think we would have a better product if we could keep it somewhat separate. >> let me see if i can tie them together. on the sequestration question, if the american people start to see the effects of sequestration, and they say fix it, can you go back, maybe through the continuing resolution, and retroactively undo the sequestration? >> well, it's a separate question. and it has so many different aspects that don't relate to each other.
sure. that's possible. i don't think it's realistic. because we've not seen the white house engage with us in conversations about cutting spending which would give us some leeway on relieving sequestration. the goal of all of this on our part of view is how do we cut spending? which the white house has been unwilling to discuss. if they get the message from the public, the white house, if they get the message from the public they need to fix this, hopefully they will see fit to address the entitlement part of our spending, which would give us the opening, then, to talk about how do we solve the sequester problem as well as the c.r. >> if the president doesn't come up with a plan, is there any way that you can work with your senate counterparts? the senate yesterday introduced a plan. obviously has new revenue in it. but is there any way to work
this out sort of on the congressional level rather than wait for the president to present a plan? >> i don't see a solution on the horizon. in the congress. this is such a huge effort it would take to relieve sequester that only the head of the executive branch with all the agency heads under their toe, they're the only ones that can come up with a comprehensive plan. that complaint be done in the congress because the congress, you know, is divided, republican house, democrat senate, they don't agree on taxes, they don't agree on spending, they don't agree on hardly anything. sights left to the president. to try to put the package together, to relieve us of sequester. >> how dot republicans still not agree with the president on most issues, so even if the
president presents something, how can he present something that might be palatable to the house or senate republicans that are a key part of passing any legislation? >> i think the quick answer is we need to have a conversation. and so far we've been talking to ourselves. the president has not been a part of the conversation about cutting spending and being realistic but what is achievable in the congress in order to relieve the country of this awful sequestration, this automatic slicing of spending from taking effect. >> there's a phenomenon that surrounded the proceedings process for years and years and got a bad wrap ultimately called earmarking in which somebody such as yourself might try to help a local community, build a community center or new streetlights, roads, a state
with a lock and dam or something like that and it ultimately ballooned into a process that was much criticized. speaker boehner was the muscle who got them ultimately banned because, you know, there were a lot of them, they were easy for people like me and roxana to make fun of as you cherry pick through the bills looking for them. there was a nexus some members would take campaign contributions from firms in their district and in any event, it was ultimately banned. what effect has that had on the appropriations process? has it made your job more difficult because you now have members who don't want to go along and have little incentive to go along because they don't get results for their constituents? >> it's made it more difficult, no doubt about that. i personally think that a member of congress not only has the opportunity but i think the
obligation to represent his communities and his counties and his state in the u.s. congress. i think that should be and is a part of our responsibility. so i would be in favor of being allowed -- to allow representative to present a request from the city or county or state or political squigs government unit. i think we should be allowed to advocate it on our hometowns. however, our conference has seen fit to impose a ban on so-called earmarks, and i have to abide by that position the caucus has taken. >> do you think that there are a lot of members who would really like to have them returned but -- do they tell that you privately? >> oh, yeah, just about every
day, a member or two or three will bring the subject up. and i think we would do away with most, if not all of the bad earmarks if we limited them to a official request from a local city or mayor or city council or state government or governmental unit officially and we allowed abdication by members of congress, we would not have bad things happen. we had some bad things happen, so-called bridge to nowhere, which, by the way, was not an appropriations, that was an authorization committee that did that. but we could enforce a very limited number of those if we
had rules from the caucus and house and senate. >> we have a couple minutes left. >> still on the earmarks, you think that took away the incentive of members to participate in an actual debate, do you think it turned everything into an ideological debate where people cannot come together because there's no incentive for them to work on certain bills or certain processes? >> yeah. i think it has hurt the process. >> you said you met with senator mick couple ski, she's -- mikulski, she's brand-new and the first to chair the committee on either house or senate. she has a bit of a different operating style, i think, than senator anew ue -- senator anew wee. >> i knew her when we worked in the house and worked with her somewhat there as well.
anew wee and she is as determined as i am to get the house back to regular order. we talked about that the other day. and i think we'll see a different senate separation, we're hopeful, and i think she's capable of doing that and i think she's headed in that direction. and by the way, nita lowey, on my side, first woman ranking member of the appropriations committee on the house side. >> you think patty murray as head of the budget committee in the senate might work along with mikulski and you and nita lowey on getting things to the same page? >> i think paul ryan, chairman of house budget committee, has been in contact with senator murray and i think are both very practical minded people and understand that this is a practical place we're talking about here. .
i hope and trust the budget committee can agree we'll do our job which we can't do otherwise. >> how closely do you work with paul ryan? >> and we're limited by what we can do by the number he gives us in the bution resolution and he understands that and sympathizes with our predicament and told him as i told others, you're in the pilot house steering the ship of state with your lofty ideas. the appropriations committee on the other hand, we have to make it work. and when i have two hands shoveling coal down there, senate and the house, we can make things happen. but if we're not in sync, the ship of state gets dead in the water and that's sort of where
we are right there. >> chairman, we have to leave it there. thanks very much for being a part of newsmakers. >> thank you very much. good to be with you. >> and we're back with our reporters to help us talk about what we just heard there from the chairman of the appropriations committee end it by talking about the difference between the appropriators and the budget committee and the members that sit on that. what has happened to -- why are we talking about sequestration, andy? and he talked a lot about regular order. why are we not in regular order? >> the sequester was a mechanism designed back when we had the debt limit crisis of 2011, and it was put in place at the suggestion of the white house as a way to guarantee the spending cuts demanded by speaker boehner, and then we had this phenomenon known as the supercommittee in the fall of 2011, and that imploded on
taxes and now finally in the wake of president obama's win on taxes around the fiscal cliff which is another crisis we manufactured for ourselves up here on capitol hill, we're left with the sequester in place, and there's some hard feelings, i think, about what happened on the tax bill. there are ardent conservatives or tea party people around here who see that as a way to lock in budget cuts. and nobody seems to be able to avoid it. and quite frankly, it seems like there's been a recognition that the only way to stop the sequester is to let it happen and let us feel our effects. so what we heard from chairman rogers was a description of the problems, but he's not got the solution or nobody up here does. >> so sequestration happens and then are you saying they go back and they fix it through
what mechanism? >> that's unclear. that is unclear. >> i think everybody is hoping -- i think overall, particularly lawmakers like hall rogers, probably hopes that -- this is my takeaway, that once it happens, they can't stop it until march 1. i don't see any way -- i don't think they see any way to do it until then. but he hopes that people will see the effects of this, which could be quite wide ranging, to come back to the table and figure out a way to get spending cuts. and i think that's an overall -- i think a lot of the conservatives have driven this discussion about deep spending cuts, but i think the republicans and house have made it very clear that that's where they draw the line. >> and the chairman wants to keep a continuing resolution, the legislation that keeps the government funded and running, he wants to keep that separate from sequestration. >> correct. >> correct. >> explain why and what